Friday, March 24, 2017

Voters, Please!

A chart attached to notice of the April 15 Tax March in Plainfield reveals that 45.05 percent of those eligible to vote in the November general election did not go to the polls.

The chart includes all Union County municipalities and shows 23,692 registered voters in Plainfield, with 13,019 votes cast and 10,673 not voting. So only 54.95 percent of those eligible actually voted.

This year there is a mayoral election in Plainfield and currently a crowded field of candidates. It will thin out in the June 6 primary, where Democrats will vie for the party line (no Republicans have announced candidacy, to my knowledge). The primary winner and any independents who file will be on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Some of the campaign messages so far are confusing. One candidate quoted the Declaration of Independence, appearing to advocate for separation from ... what? It made me wonder how the candidate, if successful, would take the Oath of Office as mayor, in which the winner pledges "true faith and allegiance" to the Constitution of the United States and the State of New Jersey. It doesn't talk about parties or city wards or whatever other divisions may exist.

Similarly, when a candidate vows to "take Plainfield back," what does that actually mean? It implies some sort of ownership. Are we forgetting that elected officials are stewards of city resources for a specific time frame? Voters decide to whom they want to entrust that responsibility - or at least those who go to the polls decide.

I saw another call to unseat the whole school board and the whole seven-member council. Well, only three of nine school board seats come up for election in a given year, so it would take a while to convert the whole board. As for the seven-member City Council, there is one four-year term and one unexpired term on the ballot this year. Next year there are two, the First Ward and the Second & Third Ward at-large seat. In 2019, Ward 2 and the 1&4 Wards at-large seats are up, then in 2020 Ward 3 and the Citywide at-large seat. In 2021, it's again Ward 4 and the mayor. So it is a long-term, multi-year project to "vote the rascals out," as the saying goes.

Of course, the shortcut is to gain a majority on either board. If you don't like the current configuration, organize, strategize and get your partisans to the polls. Rhetoric alone won't do it.

My hope for this year is that candidates will inform themselves and speak to the issues of municipal governance, rather than deal in personalities and name-calling. And I hope voters will hold candidates to a high standard, make sure they are properly registered, and go to their voting locations on June 6 and Nov. 7.



  1. Tax March was first billed as a Community Unity event similar to the Women March as the first bit of information was stated. "So excited to be organizing this event for Union County and beyond. We will have many intelligent, inspiring speakers - come out - get educated - have fun and meet new people"

    Sad that the elected officials and those running for office have hijacked this platform, where are the intelligent and inspiring speakers for this event. I would prefer to hear from activists minded people on how we can pressure our elected officials to force and change the laws with regards to Trump's tax returns. I will hold off attending until the slate becomes solid. We just ended 18 months of campaigning trash, would prefer to clean the streets of Plainfield at least I know that is doing something good then listen to empty campaign promises.

    On your subject of the Mayoral election, Are the candidates planning debating events before the June primary. We want to know what are their viewpoint on issues that effect our city, not the national level. Quality of life, Tax relief locally, Crime, The Arts, Pay for Play, Accessibility, Homeless and Overcrowding. and Code Violations. Enough said from their paid talkers, We want to hear from them directly on OUR issues of Plainfield

    1. Timmy - my understanding (from the organizer) is that they invited the speakers that are scheduled - therefore your fun and dramatic fox news line about them hijacking the event is one of your standard populist lines that sounds great but isn't accurate.

      Also - since you are new to town - there are debates prior to the elections, sponsored by the league of women voters. Hopefully you will be able to attend so that you can hear answers from the candidates and then spin it into your standard warped interpretation.

      By the way when did all the candidates have enough money to hire "paid talkers"? These are low dollar local races - not quite the home of paid PR staff. It does make for a zippy populist sounding attack though.

    2. Anon 1:45 pm - According to Rebecca's comment on David's blog below, the League of Women Voters only conducts their debate for the general election, not the primary. We all know, living in Plainfield, an unbiased debate should be done for the primary. Since Plainfield is mainly Democratic. So far only the Plainfield NAACP seems to be conducting a candidate forum for the primary, which for two years in a row, Mapp's candidates have not shown up to. I would hope the League of Women Voters changes their debate dates prior to this primary. Maybe the community can organize another non-partisan organization to conduct a primary debate. - (Per Rebecca: Please note the the League of Women Voters of Plainfield only hosts political forums for the November elections for opposing parties (such as Dem/Rep/Ind), and hosts school board forums.) -

    3. I hear that the Plainfield Anti Violence Coalition. May be hosting a canidates forum on public safety and gun violence.

    4. Thank you Alma,

      It is good to hear all the candidates will speak in a few forums. For those who do not show up it is their loss. We hope that the LMV will have a forum before the primaries.

      It was wonderful last year when the LWV had the forum with the 3rd Ward candidates, showed who was the real winner and was happy that Charles McRae won the election.

      Since we do not have a newspaper that focuses on local politics we have to relay on Bernice and Doc for the blogs that are informative.
      We can not believe press releases and fake news

  2. Fortunately, we have seen what the candidates do in office for several years now. If we go back, we go back to the Sharon days of chaos and a public tired of the old political tricks to benefit a few. We need to look at what the candidates have done over the past eight or more years, if they have a real plan to move Plainfield forward, and if they can be trusted to keep their word. I know there are two candidates whose past record makes me uncomfortable in trusting that they have changed and will work for everyone and not just the few.

    1. Well said Bob. I think it would take about 2 minutes to read through all the ideas and legislation the Rivers and Brown have offered throughout their council careers - a search would net you almost zero documents. They are more inclined to pass judgement without facts and spin things to sound like they are informed when they are not. Sound familiar? Its an easy choice this year - Mapp is doing a good job and heading in the right direction.

  3. Here's what I see. "Luxury Apartments" being built while immigrants pile up in illegal one and two family dwellings. ABC was retained, where are the jobs? Give $500 to students to teach them fiscal responsibility? How about training them to make a living? Politicians will say anything knowing most will forget and at least 45% don't care.

    1. Anon 1:08 - you obviously spent a great deal of time working on the data to back-up that post - such extensive research and facts.
      1) List the number of "Luxury Apartments" developments that are in process right now. By the way - do you actually see them? if so where?
      2) Overcrowding is an issue and has been for well before Mapp was Mayor. He is also working to address the issue but it is a very slow process. Zoning and code violations are not as simple as say "a ha, we caught you, here is your ticket" - property owners have a the right to due process - which delays the results.
      3) ABC was retained - so there are the jobs right there - if they had left there would be a job loss. They are also planning to hire additional workers - and btw, their busy season is approaching so if they continue to do well they will hire additional staff.
      4) There is no plan to give $500 to students. There is no formal plan in place at all, but the concept would involve 529 accounts. But I am sure you knew that from your extensive research.
      5) Training them to make a living? That is included in the concept - it is called college or trade school financial support. I am sure that was also found in you research.
      6) 45% don't care? How did you come to that figure? Interestingly it outpaces the accuracy of your facts.

      Ask questions, do research, learn something new. You will be happier and likely less cynical as a result.

    2. OK 1:57 here we go:
      1. What's being built by the Plainfield Station? South Ave? Affordable housing?
      2. Mapp was on the Counsel, he's been Mayor for almost 4 years, how much time does he need?
      3. Where are the NEW jobs?
      4. The $500 giveaway had to be abandoned. There was no detail other than to sell paintings he had no right to.
      5. Putting money in an account for 18 years in a fuzzy concept is flat out foolishness.
      6.45.05% of eligible voters chose the option to sit it out.
      Hope that helps.

    3. I have lived in Plainfield for over 35 years and am still surprised at the ignorance of reality some people have. Not all housing in Plainfield is subsidized and many nice apartment buildings are not luxury, but what would be normal apartments in other towns. Not everyone in Plainfield lives in assisted housing, so let's not get snobbish, because most Plainfield residents live in unsubsidized apartments and pay full rent. Just because a building is new and looks good on the outside doesn't make it a luxury apartment.

    4. Anon 5:04 - you still haven't done your research and it shows:
      1) The apartments across from Plainfield station are not luxury and nor are those across from Netherwood station - they are what is called market rate (i.e. regular apartments). As for those on South Avenue that are being built those have some extras beyond a base apartment but I wouldn't call them Luxury unless I was in their marketing department. Ultra light luxury at best. Then you have the apartments going up on west 2nd - those will be workforce housing - non section 8 affordable. Then you have subsidized housing in the proposed new Elmwood Gardens. Market rate does not equal luxury and Plainfield has more than its requirement of affordable housing - we built while other towns paid not to. Market rate apartments contribute more to the tax base and that is what is needed in this city.
      2) Mapp was one of 7 on the council along with Rivers and Brown and others from their group. He tried while on the council to increase zoning enforcement - it was voted down. His first year as Mayor he tried to increase funding for Zoning enforcement to add another zoning official - that was voted down and Rivers was the council President. He has done a great job with the little resources available. Go research what goes into zoning enforcement - landowners have many rights to delay the process and it take time to bring final enforcement.
      3) ABC is adding 15 new positions in addition to the jobs created locally during construction - and more when the apartments start next door. NJ has lagged the nation in job creation - the Mayor can only do so much within an environment like the one Christie has created and he is doing an excellent job.
      4) Do your homework - it wasn't a $500 giveaway and as far as I know it hasn't been abandoned. You are making things up with no facts - and not doing a very good job at it.
      5) Again that is just malcontent anger without any facts or information - nonsense blabbering.
      6) I believe that is a state number - some of the wards in Plainfield had much higher turnout. For those that choose to sit it out many do so because people like you fill the conversation with angry nonsense and they get turned off. I know if I had to listen to your sad commentary too much I would shut down too.
      And that did help - to show that you respond from a sad dark angry place with no effort to do research or understand the need for pragmatism in this world.

  4. Flat out lies, misinformation and rewritten history should not be allowed to go unchallenged.

    1. Anon 3:16 - what and to whom is that random undetailed comment directed towards?

    2. See Dan Damon's blog Sunday March 26th for full explanation.

  5. Thank Goodness Obama Care has been saved !

  6. Bob and Anon 1:48PM, Please, both of you are Mapps loyalist and will continue to knock any and everybody that opposes his narcissistic ideas and opinion. He has only built apartment building and have given away other people's money. Why do you keep talking about Brown and Rivers lack of legislative documents? They have supported good causes. Tell me Bob why do you keep talking about how they voted. They voted in favor of good legislation, were they just suppose to make stuff up to say they have documents. People have the right to run for any office they choose. Do people have the right to disrespect, disgard, and defame just because of unsubstantiated lies.

    1. Give some facts. It is easy to make up stories and twist the truth. Some people are uncomfortable with change and would like Plainfield to remain as it was under Sharon. Mayor Mapp and I disagree on some issues, but moving Plainfield forward and changing our thinking about how great Plainfield can be is a good thing. After years of stagnation we have movement forward. I don't trust any of Sharon's cohorts to keep us going in that direction so I will support this administration as long as this city I love benefits and improves.

  7. It was accurately mentioned above by Alma Blanco that the League of Women’s Voters (LWV) does not sponsor candidate debates for primary elections. It should also be mentioned that the League would provide a paid moderator for a primary debate if other organizations sponsor the event. This was done under the leadership of the late FOSH President Pat Turner-Kavanaugh. The most recent one was at Emerson Community School for the 2013 Mayoral Primary.

    When the LWV moderates the event, the candidates are assured of an unbiased person who comes from outside of the city and has experience moderating debates.

    Alma also mentioned that the NAACP “seems to be conducting a candidate forum”, and in another comment there was mention of another organization interested in sponsoring a forum. They should consider co-sponsoring a debate.

    It was also mentioned in the comments above that some candidates skipped debates. Though at times there have been scheduling conflicts, some of the sponsors and the venues have not been unbiased and neutral. One organization that hosts these debates had a political operative’s spouse running the debate – this is not unbiased and neutral.

    Debates should be held at public venues; the community schools and the library. The candidates are then assured a neutral venue, void of political bias. And they should be held in a ward where a current council seat is not up for re-election. This year that would once again be in the 1st ward at Emerson School.

    And lets us not kid ourselves, these debates are poorly attended and poorly broadcasted. The audience is usually stacked with residents that are pro one candidate or another and not with undecided voters. There is no need for multiple debates. And if we want to attract a larger audience the capacity exists for the debate to be broadcast live on the City’s designated cable channels.

    Jim Spear

  8. So true Jim concerning debt venue and host. Unfortunately for prior debates the NAACP has not been the most unbiased. The fact of the matter, debate or not, Rivers, Brown and Mapp all have served the city as elected officials and the choice is more than clear which of the three has the intelligence, professionalism and capability to keep this city moving in the right direction. Mapp 2017.


    1. Keep it moving yes for a certain class. But not for all. One Plainfield for the privileged class.